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Vehicle Safety: Modern Accessories That Preserve Lives

Henry Ford is credited with creating the affordable automobile.  Because of mass production and assembly lines, by the 1920s an automobile purchase was in the reach of most of the population of the developed countries.  A Ford Model T cost less than $300 USD in 1920; much lower priced than the $1,200 USD it brought in 1909.  Now the masses of working class people could afford modern transportation.

 The early vehicles could travel at speeds up to an amazing 50 miles per hour.  The mechanical brakes of those vehicles were little better than dragging your feet though, and the steering was kind of vague, thus many accidents occurred, often seriously injuring the occupants.  Improvements were made in steering, brakes, tires and suspensions making vehicles much safer to operate, but accidents still occurred, mostly from driver error than from inadequate equipment.

 

As the modern age of automobiles arrived, the attempts to make them safer increased.  Padded dashboards and instrument panels, collapsible steering wheels and finally seat belts were added to new cars.  Some of these, most notably the seat belts, were an aftermarket addition.  Injuries from car wrecks became less severe even when many of the vehicles involved were totally destroyed, or at least irreparable.

The modern auto era has brought the safest vehicles ever made.  There are airbags galore, three-point harnesses for passengers and driver, child seats that are like a safety cocoon for the little ones and a host of electronic safety devices:  Stability control, anti-lock brakes, collision warning alarms, back-up cameras, lane departure alarms and adaptive cruise control.  Some vehicles are designed with the passenger compartment as a safety box, collapsible front and rear frame members and reinforced doors and roofs.  All this has been done in the name of safety and occupant protection, a worthy cause.

One area the vehicle manufacturers haven’t been able to address is “the loose nut behind the wheel.”  Driver training in some areas of the world consists only of teaching the mechanics of operating a vehicle, but none of the responsibilities that go with an operator’s license.  Courtesy while driving seems to be an after thought instead of a conscious action.  Drivers don’t signal their intentions, pull out in front of faster moving traffic and change lanes without checking their mirrors and turning their heads.  Thus we still have vehicular collisions, but at least we are a lot safer.

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